Event Planning Guide

»19. Film Screenings and Copyright Compliance

While individuals are free to watch movies on their own, movies cannot be shown to the public without a license. This, under many circumstances, includes showing films on campus to the Chapman community.


For specific guidelines to showing movies or other audiovisual works and answers to the below questions, see the Copyright Guidelines for Exhibiting Movies and Other Audiovisual Works on the Legal Affairs website. 


Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is it a "public performance"?
  2. Is there an applicable exception to the license requirement?
  3. Is it going to be a hassle to get a license and do I really need to get one?

Public Domain Movies

Few, but some, movies are in the “public domain” and can be shown without obtaining a public performance license.  Wikipedia publishes a list of movies it believes to be in the public domain, but it is neither complete nor authoritative. 

How to obtain a public performance license

Obtaining a public performance license is fairly simple. The below distributors are authorized to grant such licenses if you rent directly from them.  You can also contact the copyright holder, who is generally the studio.  

Additional Resources:

  • Doc Films - for information on movie distributors, current rights and print owners.

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